The Benefits of The Kettlebell Swing: One hand or two?

June 29, 2015 by Liz

By Master Trainer, Jennifer Schildwachter

Master Trainer & NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist Jen Schildwatcher
Master Trainer & NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist Jen Schildwatcher

The kettlebell swing has been found to bring forth therapeutic relief by preventing further injury and relieving pain. It also can have a corrective benefit, coupled with natural physics, which demands correct spine mechanics throughout the actual swing. The kettlebell swing also reinforces proper functional spine mechanics and in some studies, it has helped back pain sufferers. From a corrective standpoint, kettlebells can be a great tool for individuals with prior low back, shoulder, knee and ankle injuries.

So how does one embark on a kettlebell program? Does the person start with heavy or light weight? Does that same person, start with one handed grip or two?

In general, the kettlebell swing targets practically every muscle in your body, but in particular those of the posterior side; glutes, hamstrings and back. It would make logical sense the more muscles you can hit or fire in one go around with the kettlebell, the more energy(calorie expenditure) is required to fuel the movement. Kettlebell swings are huge fat burners as well as great for your posture.

So if the swing in general is so great, why would it matter if you wanted to do a two handed or one handed swing?

The one handed swing offers similar benefits of the two handed swing plus:

1) The one handed swing helps to recruit smaller and stabilizing shoulder muscles that help keep your shoulder joint in correct position and safely in its socket. That is the main reason, from a rehabilitative and corrective standpoint, the one handed swing is great to strengthen each shoulder and prevent future shoulder injuries.
2) Using the one handed kettlebell swing puts more rotational torque or rotational through the core muscles resulting in additional core recruitment.
3) When using the one handed kettlebell swing it basically doubles the amount of grip strength required to keep hold of the actual kettlebell. As we age, grip diminishes and it’s important to look after a steady and firm grip. Grip strength tends to illustrate a natural sign of overall full body strength.

So if you’re looking forward to starting a kettlebell program or you are incorporating them into your current routine, but don’t know where to begin with utilizing a one handed grip, it’s important to acknowledge mastering the double handed grip first before going to a single handed grip.

In general, there are so many wonderful benefits to kettlebell swinging and in some circles it’s almost revered as a “practice”. The Swing is dynamic and mechanical, but when done correctly, it is an art form because it demands perfect muscle activation which in turn protects and stabilizes the body.

Whether you wish to swing for fun, fitness or corrective reasons, swing with two hands first then ease your way into a one handed grip and stay in that sequence as you begin progressing to heavier kettlebells. So swing away!!

Double Arm Kettlebell Swing:

Single Arm Kettlebell Swing:

If you are interested in taking your training to the next level, Jen is currently teaching Kettlebells, Straps, Boards and Beyond. That is a great way to challenge yourself and change up old workouts. Not sure about taking a class, but would like some individual attention? Jen is available for personal trainings as well! Feel free to send her an email at jschildwachter@clubfit.com or call her extension at Club Fit Jefferson Valley: 914.245.4040 ext. 1216.